Billy Porter makes history, LGBTQ stars score at the Emmys

Sunday’s 71st Emmy Awards was filled with LGBTQ wins! Notably, Pose’s Billy Porter scooped the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy, making him the first openly gay black actor to take the honour.

Porter, who had just turned 50 the day before, was recognised for his role as master of ceremonies Pray Tell on the acclaimed drama series, which has been renewed for a third season.

“The category is love, y’all, love!” exclaimed the star to cheers from the audience when he accepted his award.

“[Writer and playwright] James Baldwin said, it took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself, and halfway believed, before I was could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here.

“I have the right, you have the right ― we all have the right!” asserted Porter.

“The truly talented Billy Porter just made history as the first out gay man and first Black gay man to win the Emmy in Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, as well as the first time this award has gone to an actor portraying a gay character,” commented GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis. “Congratulations to Billy for this well-deserved honour and for always using his work and platform to showcase the power of being authentic,” said Ellis.

There were numerous other awards given to LGBTQ artists and shows, including in the reality TV realm. Queer Eye scored four Emmys, including Outstanding Structured Reality Program. RuPaul’s Drag Race continues to earn accolades, taking home four awards – including, once again, Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program for RuPaul, and Outstanding Competition Program.

Gay English actor Ben Whishaw won the Emmy in Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for A Very English Scandal. The mini-series, written by out producer Russel T. Davies, tells the true story of UK politician Jeremy Thorpe who stood trial for conspiracy to murder his gay ex-lover, played by Whishaw.

Out actress Cherry Jones, who played Holly in The Handmaid’s Tale, won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

LGBTQ comedy luminaries also scored: Jane Lynch won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series trophy for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, while Kate McKinnon and her Saturday Night Live castmates were honoured in the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category.

In an emotional moment, Patricia Arquette paid tribute to her late transgender sister Alexis after winning the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Emmy for The Act. “In my heart, I’m so sad: I lost my sister Alexis [in 2016] and that trans people are still being persecuted,” she said.

“I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and I will be for the rest of my life for you until we change the world; until trans people are not persecuted. And give them jobs! They’re human beings, let’s give them jobs, let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere.”

British comedy series Fleabag and the fantasy epic Game of Thrones were the biggest winners on the night, respectively winning for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series.

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